French teacher Sophia Lataille is not only new to Xavier but to the classroom. This is her first year as a teacher, so every step of the way is a first step. She has been learning just as her students have been learning. We are following her at various times throughout the year, giving readers a glimpse into the life of a first-year teacher. Our first post, below this one, was Oct. 23.
Sophie Lataille may be in her first year teaching but things move quickly at a high school. Here we are with midterms over and Christmas break starting. Almost time to bid 2018 goodbye.
We checked in with Lataille in early November, just after the first marking period ended, and then again this week as midterm exams were being given.
“The first marking period [which ended Oct. 26) went well, but it was hectic and insanely busy,” Lataille said in early November. “I feel much more prepared. During quarter one I was trying to get my bearings and keep up with everything, whereas now I feel like I have a better handle on things (time management and planning).
She did learn a few things about herself at that point, about two months into the school year.
“I think I started the year off too ‘nice.’ I should have been a bit more strict to start off with, and I knew that going in, but it just isn't who I am,” Lataille said. “I definitely reaffirmed that I am someone who needs to be extremely organized and ahead to feel good about my work, so that's exactly what I tried (and still try) to do.”
Preparing for midterms might not be easy for the students, but neither is it for a first-year teacher. Will the test be too tough, too easy?
“It took me a long time to prep for midterms,” Lataille said last week. “Creating exams took me quite a few hours, then there is creating the study guides, rubrics, and checking everything twice. I think it took me so long to create the exams because I was so worried about them being fair, but still challenging. I had colleagues look things over, I triple-checked things, and so on to ensure they are fair … but I guess we won't know until the students take them!”
Now, about four months into the academic year, she says there is no singular moment that stands out, “but I think a lot about how much I've gotten to know my students and the fun we have in class. So far I am most proud of my students’ growth. I've seen a lot of improvement in a lot of students, which makes me extremely happy.”
A goal for the second half of the year will be to keep “myself and the students motivated … keep them going until the end of the year because I haven’t experienced that yet.”
She says she will try to craft some fun activities to keep the students engaged. Another goal will be to convince some juniors to stick with French next year. A language is required for three years, but she’d love to see some take Advanced Placement French as a senior.
Friday started the Christmas break for the kids and they won’t be back in school until Monday, Jan. 7. Lataille will spend part of the holidays at her parents’ house in Maine and then is headed overseas.
“My sister is flying in from California and my brothers will be there as well. We'll spend Christmas at home all together as a family, which will be lovely,” she said. “After Christmas I am going to Columbia for a week to visit some friends I met in France. My friend, Paola, is from Bogota, so we will be spending time with her and her family.
“Traveling abroad will definitely help me to unwind and sort of ‘reset’ for the rest of the school year. I also only speak French with my friends who I am traveling with, which will be a nice change of pace.”
Et finalment, Vœux de bonheur pour un Joyeux Noël! (And finally, happy wishes for a Merry Christmas!).